#239: Social Media

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Social media is funny. For starters, it allows us to connect across the world with friends we might never hear from otherwise. Without Facebook, I probably wouldn’t know a damn thing what my friend Rachel, who lives in Australia currently, is up to. It’s nice to see updates from friends who mean a lot to me, even though we don’t talk super frequently. I also have friends on there much older than me, people I met and became acquainted with during my various internships, and whom I owe so much of my professional success to. It’s nice to see them comment on my professional updates, especially when I’m really trying to take care of myself more. Social media is what allows all this flourish, and I’m thankful for it in that sense.

Though, social media also gives me anxiety from time to time. Sometimes I think life would be simpler if I didn’t constantly see updates from people I went to college with, telling me what they’ve been up to since then. Some of them are completing their second year as teachers, and while that’s very exciting for them, it leaves me with a feeling of emptiness. Not everything I do needs to be compared to other people’s lives, but social media almost encourages us to compare the two. It’s a part of social media’s DNA. Every post you make, every story you upload, every status you write, every like you share, every click you make, everything eventually is tied to someone else, and it’s connected to your online profile, either through Google, Facebook, or what have you. The people who “like” it, the people who ignore it, the people who are online but have better things to do. It’s tough not to take personally.

Was social media a mistake?

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#193: The Tunnel

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I have carpal tunnel syndrome. No, I’ve never been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m confident that I have it. My hands are weak, my joints are twisted, and my fingers feel pain as soon as I start typing or using the computer at all. It’s an unusual feeling, but it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to. Like how people with disabilities or diseases acclimate to the new normal of their lives, I’ve gotten used to feeling a slight twinge in my fingers after typing for long periods of time. It’s worse when I write physically, though. That’s part of the reason why I’ve moved on from my personal journaling and have started writing my blogs on here instead. It helps me relax my fingers, while keeping the blogs to a steady 300-word minimum allows me to stop myself before it gets too out of hand (get it?).

According to orthoinfo.org, “The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. The carpal tunnel protects the median nerve and flexor tendons that bend the fingers and thumb.” Before doing some research, I never actually knew what carpal tunnel was named after; I assumed it had something to do with the wrist, obviously, but nothing specific came to mind.

When I play video games, that’s usually when I feel the pain the most. My hands can start to fall asleep in the middle of playing games, and if I hold onto a grip for too long, my hands start to feel pressure and pain. It’s not a good or pleasant feeling, that’s for sure. I don’t think I could ever play a game like Starcraft 2 again, at least without damaging my hands even more. Or Super Smash Bros: Melee. Not that I ever was good at those games, but it doesn’t hurt to have fun with them every once in awhile.

Shame

Teacher of the year,
teacher of the year
who deserves to be
teacher of the year?

Is it the newbie, struggling in
solitude, toiling on
lesson plans
on a Monday midnight,
pushed into submission
by fellow teachers and students alike,
ready to burst into flames
on a moment’s notice?

Or
the one who remains

I remember
students complaining about you,
I remember the stories they told me,
about your nitpicking on their handwriting
and grammar and diction and syntax,
I remember your advice,
“Just use teacherspayteachers,
it has everything you need,”
I remember designing whole units
for you to get credit for,
I remember you visiting my room
for advice on how to teach a certain passage,
I remember sitting in the bathroom
when you complained
with your chummy friends
about my bathroom habits,
I remember quitting,
and I remember your fake concern,
just so you could have another
juicy piece of gossip
to spread around the school

I remember it all,
teacher of the year

#58: Multiplayer & Solo

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Continuing the spirit of talking about things that I talked about a long time ago but want to dedicate more thought to, here’s Overwatch again, but in a different context! (The enclosed picture is not related to Overwatch at all, but that’s because there aren’t any free pictures on the internet of the logo, so this will have to suffice.)

In case you didn’t read my last blog post on this subject or are living under a rock, Overwatch is a first-person shooter (fps) video game for the PC, Xbox, and PS4. It features quick movement, a massive pool of heroes with different niches and styles, and solid, reliable run-and-gun gameplay built around teamwork and cooperation. Six heroes make up a team and have to complete a single objective in order to win a match; however, opposing them is another team of six heroes with the sole objective of making sure the first team does not succeed. It’s a back-and-forth, chaotic, fun multiplayer game built for pre-made teams to dominate together. When I find myself hanging out with my friends, we always end up playing at least one or two games of Overwatch before the night is over. Bringing our laptops or computers together to play games is a classic tradition of ours, to complete the LAN party atmosphere, but venturing online to Battle.net to play some Overwatch is almost an inevitability.

Despite all this talk about the game’s multiplayer prowess, I also enjoy playing solo from time to time. The Quick Play mode is painless and, as its name implies, quick, a simple way of entering a game with like-skilled players but without any major competitive stakes attached, except for a small bit of experience gained at the end of the match for the winning team. There are different virtues to extol while playing the game online with friends versus online by myself, and I’ve learned to enjoy both. The fact that every match is multiplayer does not necessarily mean I have to play with other people I know in my party to have fun.

 

#57: Sweaters Again

Yes, it’s finally time. It’s here. After 56 blog posts, for some reason it took this long for me to finally dedicate a single blog post around one of my favorite things in the world: a comfy, bunchy sweater. I did write an earlier post about sweater love, but that was overshadowed by another subject. Here, in this post, we only talk about sweaters and nothing else.

If you know me at all, you know how much I absolutely die for these things. Nothing fits or feels better on my skin than a sweater with enough room in the arms for breathing, while also maintaining some breathing room in the chest area, too. Enough for me to walk around in without thinking too much about what I’m wearing, if that makes any sense at all. It’s as if I’m so comfortable and content that I don’t care as much about the shirt I have on or the pants I’m wearing. Everything else is overcome by the glorifying, sun-seeking warmth of the sweater, to which there is nothing better.

Now, you might be thinking, Anthony, what about during the summer? How do you survive during the hot days and months? You couldn’t possibly wear sweaters during the peak of July’s warmth, right?

Wrong!

That’s a good question, but something that I’ve thought about a good deal also. The truth is, sweaters are great no matter the temperature, so long as you have one that doesn’t fit too tight on you. You don’t need to worry about the heat when you’re inside, either, which is the perfect environment to be wearing a sweater in anyway. You wouldn’t want to be running around in these things, but also, who needs running around in the first place? You have gym clothes for that (at least, I do.)

Shout out to my grey sweater, the one that I’ve worn for a while now and has never betrayed me. It’s stood by my side through student teaching and beyond, and it’s never let me down, even during periods of unintended weight gain and uncertainty. I owe that thing more than it knows, or will ever be able to know, because after all it is just an article of clothing. If articles of clothing could talk, this would be the one item I’d be interested in speaking with, if anything for its longevity. It would have loads of stories to tell.

#45: The Gym

I love going to the gym. I love the high afterwards, the metabolic feeling of accomplishment and joy from a successful workout. I love when I’m done and can feel the energy coursing through me, like I just spent all of mine to complete this task and yet I’m invigorated to do more, more, more. It’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment amidst others who are accomplishing their own lofty goals as well. Ultimately, the gym is where we go to improve ourselves, to harden our resolves and grow physically. Admiring those who go to the gym more regularly than myself is one of my most common gym activities; it can be easy to get caught up in the marvel of it all, and seeing others perform at levels I couldn’t hope to reach soon is oddly inspiring and motivating.

I love the sounds and sights of the gym: the racing of feet on the treadmill, the pacing to and fro on the elliptical, the wheeling front and back on the sitting bike, the heaving and hoing on the pull machine, the crunches and pushups on the floor mats. I don’t usually do weights or floor exercises, at least not yet, but I admire what it takes to complete them the same way I admire all gym activities. It’s a kind of mutual appreciation, maybe.

My connection to the gym, I guess, is mostly admiration for those who are here every day. It’s like looking at The Rock’s Instagram page on a lazy day, and he’s working out at 4am in his personal gym, decked out in every machine you could ever need to accomplish your fitness goals. I look at him and feel in awe of human potential. There’s so much out there that we can accomplish, and taking care of our bodies helps us accomplish those goals. For example, I have aspirations of one day going back to Europe on a backpacking trip, maybe by myself again, and it would be great to not have to worry about whether or not I could climb up the hike in front of me. I remember Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh specifically, as that took a lot of energy from me. I would love to not have to worry about that in the future, and that’s what the gym is here for. I’m thankful for having a gym so close to our apartment, motivating me to always do better. It’s been a real life-changer, in a delightful and positive way.

If I Could

No, there’s not a time machine waiting

At the other side absolving all regrets and secrets

The mysteries presented through your teenage years

Disappeared long ago when you grew up

No chance to move back.

No, there’s not a bright light shining

Behind the door with glimmering eyes and sanctuary

The charitable salvation dignified your mistakes

Sins faults features human and worth embracing

No sanctuary to cling to.

No, there’s not a long staircase towering

Above your head leading to distant dream lands

That sings ballads to the simple living folk

With eyes closed but open elsewhere

No dreamland to plead for.

No, there’s not a metropolis bustling

In the transcendental nature of humanity

Crashing and burning under greedy infrastructure

Built to reinforce the regrets you forgive in the bedroom

Nothing to exploit.

If I could I would step away.